"Johannesburg, lust for gold, moral decay" Read the full letter
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Letter ReferenceOlive Schreiner BC16/Box2/Fold3/1900/35
ArchiveUniversity of Cape Town, Manuscripts & Archives, Cape Town
Epistolary TypeLetter
Letter DateSaturday 20 June 1900
Address FromWagenaars Kraal, Three Sisters, Northern Cape
Address ToLyndall, Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape
Who ToWilliam Philip ('Will') Schreiner
Other Versions
PermissionsPlease read before using or citing this transcription
Legend
The Project is grateful to Manuscripts and Archives, University of Cape Town, for kindly allowing us to transcribe this Olive Schreiner letter, which is part of its Manuscripts and Archives Collections. The date has been written on this letter in an unknown hand. The address the letter was sent to is provided by an attached envelope, which has an illegible postmark. Schreiner stayed at Wagenaars Kraal from 21 February until late June 1900. Schreiner has written 'Personal' on the front of the envelope.
1 Saturday
2
3 Dear old Brother
4
5 Enclosed is a note or part of the note I wrote you the other day.
6
7 I know that the progressives are mistaken who think you are going to
8play in with the Rhodes party, & I don’t myself believe even dear
9old Innes will go in with Sprig & Logan & that horde though he may
10back them as a private member.
11
12 Will dear, take your little sister’s advice & abstain from voting at
13all if your vote will strengthen the progressives. A man may sometimes
14do as much for his party by simply abstaining from acting, as by
15active labour.
16
17 I had most satisfactory letters from Merriman & Mrs Sauer re Rhodes &
18Sievewright – but Hoffmeyr, Hoffmeyr is playing with Sievewright!
19Whether he means to swallow the bate or is only toying with it, who
20can say. It is a consolation to turn from the dirty paths of Cape
21politics to the grand stand of my dear Transvaalers. Laddie, don’t
22make a mistake now
. Stand by the side which is for the moment the
23weakest.
24
25 Olive
26
27 ^I leave for Beaufort West on Friday the 25th. Address c/o Mrs Kriel,
28Boarding House.^
29
30 [page/s missing] came to Johannesburg twice to "pick up things". The
31last time she came she took four-thousand pounds from "Josephine Brink",
32for introducing her at court. This is true. Englands arristocry is
33rotten, Englands princes are rotten, & the rottenness is spreading
34slowly but surely down wards. The working classes are still largely
35sound but the disease is spreading down quickly. The hour looks very
36dark for South Africa, & South African independence & freedom; but the
37future is ours who have still a great healthy womanhood, loyal &
38simple living. Our day will come.
39
40 You will say, "What is the use of demanding the indepence of the
41republics, dwelling on the shame-ful wrong which was done the Cape
42Colony, when after we had protested against the war, our colony was
43shamelessly made use of to land troops on to attack sister states with
44which we had no quarrel:- you may protest as you like you will not get
45what you want." – Exactly so; today we will not get what we want.
46But we will present our cheque indorsed by justice, at the Bank of
47England. If that scoundrel Chamberlain who happens to be manager
48to-day refuses to honour it as he will: then we simply pocket it &
49keep it for presentation at a future date!! The day will come when it
50will be honoured. We may have to keep it four years, five, ten,
51fifteen – but we never abate our claim. It is sure, & we shall
52present it again. And when we present it one day, it will be paid to
53the very last farthing, with compound interest!
54
55 It is safe in our pockets. Laddie, don’t follow ?Solomon, he has an
56evil wife who leads him on. She is looking for a big appointment for
57her husband at Johannesburg. Seven months ago Mrs Chapin told me that
58Milner said that if you would support him he would get the
59Governor-ship of the Transvaal for you. Of course it was a bate but
60bates are being held out to other people too; & they may not refuse
61them as you would.
62
63 Good bye dear Laddie.
64
65 Your little sis
66 Olive
67
68 I hope you feel it a rest to be out of the ministry. I’m glad we are
69out, we can fight much better as an opposition.
70
71
72
Notation
The enclosed note is no longer attached. The paragraph starting 'came to Johannesburg twice...' seems to belong to a different letter, and is probably the 'part of the note' referred to in Schreiner's first sentence.